Published on January 23rd, 2013 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Hitman: Absolution Review
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PS3, PC
Developer: IO Interactive
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2013
Reviewer Note: Mild spoilers (if you have ignored interviews or trailers) may be ahead.
It has been well over five years since we last saw Agent 47 don the black suit and tie, and his return couldn’t have come at a better time. With the release of Hitman: Absolution, the development team decided to have the game fit within with modernized shooters of today, taking a more of an aggressive approach to Agent 47’s line of work. The Hitman series has typically been a stealth-based action game with killing or reckless violence leading to a mission failure. Hitman: Absolution, however, embraces it.
The world of Absolution is beautiful and disgusting all at the same time. Sure, the disgust comes in the form of adventuring through the slums of South and Central America, where environments are dark, damp and eerie. These environments are much like that of Rockstar Games’ Max Payne 3. Players will easily feel immersed and the world seems to be a character in the game all in itself.
Something that gives the world high levels of credibility can be seen right down to the off-hand conversations and cellphone talk heard in-game. You’ll find yourself getting lost in the world’s tremendous voice acting. All of the actors in the game bring more than just a voice to their character. The emotion behind the voices blends the two. The sound effects are no slouch, either. Take the fish market as a solid example. Every minute I was in that part of the world I felt like I was actually in a crowded marketplace hunting my target. From the cooks chopping up recipes, to the random conversations between merchants and customers. The “hippie” house is also brings that same emotion. Hiding from on-coming cops in pot plants.
Agent 47’s first contract is to kill his former handler, Diana Burnwood, who has gone out on her own. As you watch her die, her last wish is for you to protect his girl named Victoria. By doing so you have put a target on your own back, and are now branded as a traitor.
The characters in the game are well thought out and memorable, but not always in the best way. In some instances it seems that Hitman was trying too hard to play loose when it comes to character interactions. Some characters are crude and make poor attempts at humor in ways it seems almost desperate to be edgy. Although the main villain, Blake Dexter will make you laugh, and has several memorable moments, but lacks depth. It seems as if they tried to give the character a bit of that Handsome Jack (Borderlands 2) characterization, but fell flat.
Mechanically, Hitman: Absolution is a huge success. It takes what the previous Hitman games did successfully and flesh them out. Each mission you are given an objective, mostly to off an important target, and you can complete these in many different ways. This leaves the player a list of options that work well for that particular players liking. Want stealth? You can complete missions without killing or getting detected even though you always have to kill your main target. If you are a run and gun type you can go in with guns blazing. There are missions that you will have to go in silent, but the options on how to reach your target(s) are open. In all your missions it is important to hide the bodies of the victims that you kill or knock out.
There is a lot of fun for those who have patience and observe the environment that they are in. From the objects that Agent 47 can interact with, all the way to the costumes that you can change into to blend, the player’s decision of disguise is critical since certain people are the only ones allowed to access certain areas. Each object in the environment can help you achieve higher points, and it actually pays to explore. The more you explore, the more avenues and entry points you will find to complete your missions.
The combat is what you would expect from any third-person, cover-based shooter. You crouch and shift from cover point to cover point, and have a slew of weapons to choose from to complete your objective. Running and gunning can get you overwhelmed and killed very easily, but you do have the ability to point shoot. Point shoot is the ability to slow down time and mark your targets and fire a barrage of bullets with the press of a single button.
As your progress through the mission, your “Impact Meter” goes up based on what you accomplish. The meter is what gives you the ability to Point Shoot. Using this can get out of a tight jam if your enemies are on to your disguise.
In each mission you are graded on how well you execute the objective(s). Going through a mission silently and not killing anyone will give you the most points, and the more bodies you hide after knocking them out gain you more points. Your points will be measured up against friends that have completed the same mission.
The 10-hour campaign may leave some aggravated by the lack of killing options on contracts. You are forced into a slow motion gun fight that leaves little to satisfy everything that you have completed up to that point. Some levels have a cinematic feel to it, especially when you have to run through burning buildings and outrun oncoming police. But, it’s the world lay out and the choices you can make to get to your object that leave the element of solid game design intact.
It is so good to have Agent 47 back in action, and Hitman: Absolution is a stellar re-entry into the latest generation. From the immersive world, to memorable characters, Hitman only faintly stumbles. The AI may not be up to par, but the mechanics and game design are solid. If you are a returning Hitman fan, you will feel at home as some of the most important elements to the series are still intact, while those who are new to the franchise will find right at home with the simplicity of the controls.
Hitman is a brilliant return of the franchise. The world is alive and vibrant. You feel immersed into the story and your feelings for the girl that you are protecting feel real. The strong voice acting and solid controls lead Absolution to the top of the Hitman games. Even though the AI may not be the smartest and the story may have some narrative gaps, the game is brilliant in design and is a solid return of Agent 47.
[xrr label=”Rating: 8.5/10″ rating= 8.5/10]
+ Solid Story
+ Gameplay Mechanics
– Slow Motion contract kills
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